Parishes spread their goodness around town - Catholic Courier
Tom Race and his 14-year-old son Matthew, parishioners of Greece's Mother of Sorrows Church, rake leaves outside Bethany House in Rochester April 11 as part of the Day of Goodness. Tom Race and his 14-year-old son Matthew, parishioners of Greece's Mother of Sorrows Church, rake leaves outside Bethany House in Rochester April 11 as part of the Day of Goodness.

Parishes spread their goodness around town

ROCHESTER — Nursing facilities and urban ministries aren’t part of most people’s regular travels.

However, when caring folks go out of their way to make goodwill visits to such places, the potential increases for what Donna Jacobi — youth minister at Holy Cross Parish in Charlotte — likes to call "God moments."

Many such moments occurred on April 11, thanks to an elaborate initiative involving more than 130 volunteers who performed chores and provided companionship at sites in the city of Rochester and town of Greece.

The fourth-annual Day of Goodness involved the four Eastern Greece/Charlotte parishes: Holy Cross along with Our Mother of Sorrows, St. Charles Borromeo and St. John the Evangelist in Greece. Service was performed at Bethany House, Cameron Community Ministries, Focus Pregnancy Help Center, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Mary’s Place, Matthew’s Closet, Ronald McDonald House, Women’s Care Center, GrandeVille Senior Living Community, Shore Winds Nursing Home and Latta Road Nursing Home.

At several places, the volunteerism consisted mainly of light cleaning and sorting donated items. For instance, at Matthew’s Closet on Bay Street in Rochester, some helped out separating and folding clothes while others picked up trash outside.

Meanwhile, volunteers at adult-care facilities mingled with residents through such activities as playing games and doing crafts. Widespread flu at the Edna Tina Wilson Living Center prevented a talent show from taking place there; however, the show was successfully moved to GrandeVille. Jacobi noted that another highlight was the interaction between volunteers and refugees at Mary’s Place.

Volunteers were free to work whatever amount of time they wished, at the service sites of their choice. Toward evening, many attended Mass at their home parishes and then gathered for dinner and to share their experiences at Holy Name of Jesus Church’s parish center in Greece. Dinner was provided by the Knights of Columbus Council 3892.

Jacobi said the Day of Goodness is based on Pope Francis’ exhortations to perform service and not fear goodness. She added that the event originally involved just youths, but has grown dramatically at the request of area priests and with the help of youth ministers and religious-education coordinators. Volunteers for the most recent Day of Goodness ranged in age from 2 to 88.Rick Camilleri, a parishioner of Greece’s Our Mother of Sorrows Church, sorts clothing donations at Cameron Community Ministries in Rochester April 11 as part of the Day of Goodness.

"I think it was a huge success," commented Jill Kinsella, youth minister at St. Charles Borromeo. "Every year it has grown."

Jacobi oversaw the service sites and volunteers and has served the past two years as co-coordinator of the Day of Goodness along with Kathye Crayton, faith-formation coordinator at Our Mother of Sorrows. Jacobi emphasized that doing these types of projects — and possibly stepping out of individual comfort zones to do so — strikes at the core of what Catholic evangelism is all about and shows "how much we can accomplish together." She added that participants are urged to return to Day of Goodness sites, as well as other places in need of community service, throughout the year.

Another valuable component of the Day of Goodness is its awareness-raising, said Andy Gray, who volunteered at Matthew’s Closet April 11.

"One of the main things is, it kind of opens up our eyes to see the needs of the people," said Gray, whose wife, Margaret, is Christian-formation administrator at St. Charles Borromeo. He and other volunteers at Matthew’s Closet learned that the ministry is operated by Our Lady of the Americas Parish and serves the poor of northeast Rochester — mostly single moms and single grandmothers raising children. Clothes are donated by community members and then sold for extremely low prices or given away.

Angela Scherzi of Holy Cross, who sorted clothes at Matthew’s Closet along with her daughter, Dajsha, said they took part in Day of Goodness "just to give back to the community, to help out where it’s needed the most." Scherzi noted that they found out about the initiative through Dajsha’s middle-school religious-education program.

Dajsha said it was humbling to learn about the plight of folks who patronize Matthew’s Closet.

"I felt bad that I have a good life and they don’t," Dajsha said, but added that she was glad to be a part of trying to make people’s lives better.

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